Matt Rees's Blog – July 2009 Archive (29)

Omar Yussef in Japan

I'm very proud that my Palestinian crime novels are being published in 22 countries. Just this week I received copies from my Japanese publisher, Random House Kodansha, where THE COLLABORATOR OF BETHLEHEM is just out. They've… Continue

Added by Matt Rees on July 31, 2009 at 7:40pm — No Comments

Language textbooks and the crime writer

Here's my latest post on the International Crime Authors Reality Check blog:

You can tell a great deal about a people from the conversations in language textbooks. After all, they aim to teach you the words people speak, but also the character of those teaching them and what it might be like to live in their society.

I first cottoned to this when I learned Spanish. My textbook included a basic conversation between a… Continue

Added by Matt Rees on July 30, 2009 at 8:55pm — No Comments

Win a copy of my book

I've been writing for a new blog founded by me and three other crime writers. One of them, the ever-inventive Christopher G. Moore, came up with the idea for a competition. He got the idea after I suggested in a blog post last week that my Palestinian detective character Omar Yussef ought to stand for Palestinian president. Here's what Chris wrote on the blog and how to enter:

A Contest for Readers of The International Crime Authors… Continue

Added by Matt Rees on July 30, 2009 at 8:52pm — No Comments

The ex-husband’s trenchcoat and Zoe Ferraris’s Writing Life

Fiction—and lately in particular crime fiction—can take us deep into alien cultures, through the emotions of the characters who act as our guides, translators and social commentators. The more alien the culture, the bigger the challenge to a Western author. Zoe Ferraris took on Saudi Arabia, one of the most closed cultures… Continue

Added by Matt Rees on July 28, 2009 at 10:12pm — No Comments

“Kill someone soon!” Dan Fesperman’s advice on The Writing Life

Journalists often dream of turning the more dramatic events to which they’ve been witness into fiction. Relatively few do so successfully, and certainly not with the panache of Dan Fesperman. He has stood out from the crowd of journalist-turned-thrillerists since his fabulous debut “Lie in the Dark.” It was based on… Continue

Added by Matt Rees on July 26, 2009 at 12:26am — No Comments

Omar Yussef for President of Palestine!

My latest post on the International Crime Authors Reality Check blog:

Unlike the Palestinians (who don’t have one), Palestinian politics is in a real state. A civil war that’s been bubbling and sometimes burning for two years plus. No government in Gaza because Hamas, which rules there, is isolated. Accusations by a top PLO official that current Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had his predecessor Yasser Arafat… Continue

Added by Matt Rees on July 24, 2009 at 7:28pm — No Comments

So what, and who, really killed Arafat?

Poison? By Matt Beynon Rees - GlobalPost

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Yasser Arafat’s body lies in the back of the presidential compound, beyond the parking lot, in a mausoleum of stone and glass. Two guards in ceremonial uniforms that seem out of place in the camouflaged guerrilla world of Palestinian militias watch over the angled stone marking the… Continue

Added by Matt Rees on July 24, 2009 at 12:13am — 1 Comment

Forward: Palestinian society, warts and all -- and some mortal danger

Robert Rees (no relation) writes about my books in this week's edition of The Forward. Admirably Rob read all three of the books before passing judgment, and a good review it is (as well as an interview, because we spoke for some time on Rob's recent visit to Jerusalem). "Rees has created an award-winning crime series which provides a view of Palestinian society, warts and all, not previously available to a wider public," he… Continue

Added by Matt Rees on July 23, 2009 at 5:15pm — No Comments

Bruno in Jerusalem

It's hard enough to get around the notorious Ein el-Hilweh Refugee Camp in Lebanon at the best of times. I can testify to that, having had a few sweaty-palmed visits to the place myself to interview the hardline Palestinian gunmen who rule the camp. Try doing it after calling on the head of the Aqsa Martyrs Brigades to eschew beards which "don't look good on your King Osama" and while dressed as "Austria's greatest gay superstar since… Continue

Added by Matt Rees on July 22, 2009 at 11:53pm — No Comments

Clitoris follows vagina on Cotterill blog

I've joined up with a few other crime writers to fill a single blog, International Crime Authors Reality Check, with original content. Last week Colin Cotterill wrote about his attempt to get a "vagina" into the title of one of his novels. This week, Colin has a hilarious post about his bemusing appearance at the Crime Writers Association's Daggers dinner -- at which Colin was… Continue

Added by Matt Rees on July 20, 2009 at 10:47pm — No Comments

Dessert wars in the West Bank

It isn't only McDonald's that offers to supersize its food. In the most violent town in the West Bank, the local specialty is a hot cheese and syrup dessert called qanafi. Last month a Nablus baker made a qanafi that weighed 1,300 kg (1.3 tonnes). After the townspeople recovered from the sugar rush, a real estate developer put together a team this weekend to make a 1,700 kg qanafi that was 74 yards long.

The intention is to repair the image of a city damaged by nine years as the most… Continue

Added by Matt Rees on July 20, 2009 at 1:44am — No Comments

As The (Palestinian) World Turns

Searching for a new script to get Hamas and Fatah to cooperate.

By Matt Beynon Rees - GlobalPost

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Soap operas usually block out scenes with two cameras, one for each of the glaring opponents. The editor switches between each actor as they snarl and sneer. As for the plot, you can tune in every few months and… Continue

Added by Matt Rees on July 19, 2009 at 4:45pm — No Comments

Gimme a Break Dept. #89: He looked like a movie star!

Earlier this week I noted that I dislike writers describing a character as looking like a particular movie star. I cited a few examples from Elmore Leonard (which touched some nerves among fans of the Great Detroit Coolster) and one from Dan Brown. Now I bring you a real corker from The New Yorker.

The magazine's latest issue (at least the latest one to get through the Israeli postal… Continue

Added by Matt Rees on July 18, 2009 at 8:52pm — No Comments

Really, real fiction... and Welsh detectives

The new blog I've started with fellow crime writers Christopher G. Moore, Colin Cotterill and Barbara Nadel has a new post from me today. It's about why I came to write so-called genre fiction. It starts like this:

Writers have it all wrong. They think they need to learn about other writers. I studied English literature at Oxford University and I read all I could find of the sort of literary criticism that makes a novel seem like a piece of East German economic analysis. Three years… Continue

Added by Matt Rees on July 16, 2009 at 9:10pm — 3 Comments

Elmore Leonard's 11th Rule of Writing

I’ve always enjoyed Elmore Leonard’s novels and seen him as one of the true stylists of popular fiction. In a review, I even described my pal Christopher G. Moore as the “Elmore Leonard of Bangkok” and I meant it as a compliment. But I have a bone to pick with the great Elmore.

I just read a book of Elmore’s short stories from 2004 titled “When the Women Come Out to Dance.” In many ways it’s superb. The… Continue

Added by Matt Rees on July 15, 2009 at 10:59pm — 13 Comments

Nasty nargila and biblical heat on video

My favorite little coffee shop in Jerusalem’s Old City is just inside the Muslim Quarter, behind the Church of the Holy Sepulcher where Jesus is believed to have been crucified, buried and resurrected.

Once you’ve sucked on the tobacco in this café, even hanging on a cross with nails through your hands and feet would be a relief. It's like smoking a… Continue

Added by Matt Rees on July 14, 2009 at 10:23pm — 2 Comments

“What happened to the third little pig, Daddy?”: Bob Burke on pig detectives and his Writing Life

Anyone who’s perused the crime fiction section of their bookstore knows the joy of finding something original among the tired old shelves of loner detectives who play by their own rules on the mean streets of some dingy inner city. The clichés of the genre were uppermost in my mind when I chose to write about Omar… Continue

Added by Matt Rees on July 14, 2009 at 8:59pm — 2 Comments

Rabbis: No pie for Jesus!

Her methods may be kosher, but in Israel baker Pnina Konforti faces a bigger commercial obstacle: She's a Messianic Jew.

By Matt Beynon Rees - GlobalPost

GAN YAVNEH, Israel — I always thought that by following kosher laws religious Jews only missed out on certain flavors and debatable delicacies. Turns out that by turning their back on “treyf”… Continue

Added by Matt Rees on July 13, 2009 at 4:57pm — No Comments

Ingenious book readings: Just don't mention books!

In his terrific book "On Writing" Stephen King notes that he once asked Amy Tan what she's NEVER asked about at public readings. "They never ask about the writing," Tan tells him. Which spurs King to write a book about exactly that.

Now controversial UK… Continue

Added by Matt Rees on July 12, 2009 at 7:13pm — No Comments

Washington Report: Omar Yussef novels 'rich in intellectual complexity'

The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs has a forthcoming review praising my series of Palestinian crime novels "rich not only in character but in intellectual complexity." I blush to report that WRMEA Managing editor Janet McMahon and Don Neff, a famed predecessor of mine as Jerusalem bureau chief for Time Magazine, say I'm "a wonderfully subtle writer with a deep understanding of Palestinians and their culture." Well, actually I haven't blushed since I… Continue

Added by Matt Rees on July 12, 2009 at 7:01pm — No Comments

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